Bittersweet Disappointment

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.

Here, with my hands poised over a keyboard with so many words pushing to get out that I’m not sure if my fingers will keep up.

And it’s funny (and not in the HA-HA way) that the words come on the tail of a draining day.

William Shakespeare is quoted as saying, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” And I believe we all can recognize some truth in that.

Because I know my heartache grows from it. At least for today.

I expected someone to do what I thought they would do. No promises were made but I had a picture in my head and I watched that picture slowly fade as the hours ticked on.

I struggled with my own thoughts and emotions. Anger and Fear came rushing out pushing carts full of bricks ready to start rebuilding walls that the Lord and I have worked real hard on tearing down. And Sadness and Frustration, they came with quivers full of fiery arrows ready to attack at the slightest movement.

I did my best to calm the chaos. But they don’t listen to me anymore. They know my history of bad decisions and ugly mistakes. Their hands hovering over the self-destruct button if I so much as even think about doing anything other than running and hiding.

And so I pray without really praying. I ask God a question I didn’t really expect an answer to. I ask anyway because at least that way when I’m in this hole I’m about to dig I can have someone else to be angry with besides myself.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. And the tears ran shamelessly from my eyes as I listen to exactly what He had to say.

“I want you to feel this. And I want you to bring it to me. You don’t have to feel it alone.”

And maybe you don’t know… but that’s the most difficult “easy” thing to do.

I don’t have to build walls, I don’t have to fight battles, I don’t have to do anything more than take every bit of all this mess straight to the One Who Sees Me.

“Here Lord, here’s my mess.”

Such easy words to say but such difficult words to live.

So, I try to be tough. I shut down for a little while and try to ignore the ache in my chest.

Until, WHAM! Another blow. Another disappointment.

This blow is a little harder because I didn’t expect it. It comes out of nowhere and honestly I feel a whole foundation shake.

I’m not sure how to look at these people the same again. And all those emotions are fighting harder than ever to have their way.

Frustration shouts, “You gonna let them get away with that?”

And poor Sadness whispers, “But you don’t deserve that? Why would this happen?”

And I’ve quit listening to Anger and Fear because honestly, they’re shouting profanities at this point.

And the tears come again and this time stronger and I know… I won’t survive another blow. Not today, not this week, not this year. Not if I try to make it on my own.

And so I do the hard thing that seems like a simple thing. I give it to God.

Actually, I take it to God. We argue a bit before I give it to Him.

But in that moment I sense it. The idea that from these very disappointments something good is going to grow. Something a little sour and a little sweet. Just the right amounts. Something bittersweet.

So why do I call it bittersweet? How can I even?

Because in a moment of such clarity I know it was nothing from me and only of God, I knew I had a choice to make.

I could choose to trust God in and through this or I could slide right back down into the pit I’ve been climbing out of.

A different life needs different choices, right?

And for the very first time EVER in my life, I find myself actually thankful for this moment. This moment when I get to practice exactly what the Lord has been showing me.

When I get to see Him moving in such a way in my life that I know things are going to be different. When I can see those first glimpses of the something big from all those small beginnings.

We were made for community. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

And even in Genesis 2:18 we hear God say, “It is not good for man to be alone…”

We are social creatures whether we are introverts or extroverts. We all want to find our people.

And these disappointments and betrayals can make us feel like we’ve chosen wrong. Like there’s been a big mistake and somehow we got put at the wrong table. And we feel alone, hurt, sad, scared… you name it… And we get mighty tempted to run and see if we can’t find a better suited group for us.

Isaiah 2:22 tells us, “Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath…”

And later in 31:1-3 we read a warning about the sorrow waiting for those who trust in Egypt (man) instead of the Lord.

And it gets confusing, doesn’t it?

It’s not good to be alone but everyone will let you down. What’s a girl to do?

Because if we’re being obedient to God’s word then we know that hiding out or “hulking” out isn’t an option.

And Frustration fights even harder when he knows you’re on the verge of forgiving someone who isn’t even sorry.

It’s tempting to wail to God about how easy they’re getting off. But a while back I read somewhere words that stick with me today.

THERE WAS NOTHING EASY ABOUT THE CROSS.

And what He did on the cross wasn’t just for my sins but for theirs. And if all I’m worried about is their sins then maybe I haven’t really understood what happened on that cross.

Because I’m forgiven. That is finished. But what isn’t finished is the work God is doing in making me more and more like Him.

And that’s the work that I want to be my business. My priority.

And the truth is that someone hurting my feelings, betraying me, disappointing me does not make them a bad person. It just makes them human.

And maybe God is doing a something in them too. And that works not finished either.

We are all in these awkward middle grounds. Where our hearts and souls long for our true Home. But our feeble and weak bodies are carrying us through as God shows His loving patience to us and the world.

Because He is teaching me that in every difficult situation or relationship, I get to choose. I get to choose offense or grace. I get to choose retaliation or love. I get to hold on selfishly to what He has given me or I get to give it away.

And each of these choices is making me. And I’m either being made to look more like Him or more like the world.

I can choose to take something filled with pain and hold it close and lick my wounds. Or I can hand it over to an ever gracious and loving God and let Him turn in into something that is filled with joy and praise.

And that’s why I’m so thankful. Because I’ve always had the choice. But today I was able to see the choice. Today, when just for a moment, I decided to turn my eyes to the One Who Provides to provide me a way, He showed me His way.

There’s a small bud of something growing in this wretched heart! And I’m so thankful for it. And in the praising God for it, the disappointment doesn’t even seem that great now.

I’m not sure what the outcome of these situations I’m in now will be. But what I do know is that no matter what happens I can choose love and I can choose God. And that I’ll be thankful that I even have the choice at all.

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